Copywriting Resources

There are many excellent resources out there for web writers and people wanting to improve their writing. This is just a list of resources that have been particularly interesting or useful to me as a freelance copywriter and editor.

It’s a list of the good books on my desk, the blogs I visit regularly, and the websites I refer to. The list is a work in progress, and it does have a bias towards web writing, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

Web copywriting, content strategy and UX

I've put these resources in a single cateogry because there is such an overlap between writing for the web, content strateby and user experience.

Books

Letting Go of the Words Excellent first read if you’re new to web copywriting. It is easy to read and a good introduction to web usability as well.

Content Strategy for the Web A useful book on content strategy. Understanding and appreciating the value of content strategy is crucial to being an effective web writer.

Hot text  A guiding tome for web copywriters who need to understand not just writing effectively for people on the web, but web users, content management and website development processes.

Don’t make me think – A common-sense approach to web usability. A usability classic that’s quick and easy to read.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web Although an in-depth knowledge of information architecture is not a web writing essential, it is useful. This book is a classic in the area, even though I found its density initially quite intimidating.

Made to Stick An excellent book on what makes information sticky. Why do gory urban myths persist whilst potentially useful information is swiftly forgotten?

Nudge  - Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. Not a book on writing, but one on the psychology of choice. Valuable insight on how and why we make the decisions we do.

Online resources

Jakob Nielsen’s guide to Writing for the Web – a collection of studies and articles by one of the pioneers of website usability.

Copyblogger – excellent and immensely popular blog about online copywriting and content marketing strategies

Johnny Holland - an online collective of experts sharing their insights on interaction and user experience design.

How to create compelling content that ranks well in search engines - a concise report on SEO from a writer’s perspective.

Writing for the Web – a short, useful guide for anyone wanting to improve the writing on their website.

Copy Advice - the Advertising Standards Authority's guidance on marketing copy

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Blogs by other copywriters

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Style and Grammar

Books

The Elements of Style This book is a gem. Slim, yet packed with quirky word wisdom, it was first published in the 1930s. You might not agree with it all, but you’ll definitely pick up some tips on paring down your writing.

Practical English Usage Although this is a book written for English teachers and usually those learning English as a second language, I find it a useful resource for understanding some of the finer point of grammar.

A Plain English Handbook
A guide from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA, but very helpful guide to keeping it simple.

Online style and grammar guides

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